Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jackson Hole, Wyoming Part Three

Okay, so we had this awesome trip out to Wyoming. New adventures and risks for all of us. But, let it be known that this was not a trip without drama and meltdowns. Traveling with your family is hard. I never call it a vacation, because most times I'm dealing with the same stuff I deal with at home, only in a different location.

Some things I've learned over the years of traveling with the boys are below. Some are tried and true, some just work for our family and some are just plain bribes. What I did realize with this trip, is it is essential to travel with your kids. Be it to far away places or to the park in the next town; creating memories with your kids lasts a lifetime for all involved.

One thing we strive to do is keep them fed and rested. We plan breaks into our day and try to space out activities. Going with the knowledge of these planned breaks helps eliminate that need to do EVERYTHING in one day.
Now that the boys are older they have a say in what they would like to see and do. They help plan the adventures and we try to stick with that plan.
One of the boys has to know the schedule right to the minute. Not the way most of the world flies, but for his world it works. Straying of the day's activities can be a disaster so we try to stick to the routine.
When little and we had to go on long car trips, my husband would make a huge map with a countdown of miles. As we would pass landmarks or cities the boys could check off how far they had gone and see how much more they had to go.
Of course now, they bring there itouches etc...
but we still play car games too: I'm thinking of an animal is an all time favorite.

The boys have been traveling on planes since they were little. One of the things that we would do to help them focus and not kick the seat in front of them was to have little trinkets in our arsenal. Matchbox cars worked great along with Star War characters etc. Of course, eating on the plane was always a big hit too.
Again, now they have their books and i...whatever and that keeps them satisfied.
So, what were our mistakes on this trip?
Yellowstone in a day is not advisable(Remember that rule about planning and taking breaks?). Two hundred miles in a car in one day with a teenager and a preteen in the backseat does not make for a pleasant day. There are just so many bison, evergreen trees, geysers that a young man can look at before his brother looks better and it's time to start fooling around and then it goes downhill from there. At one point, I became my mom and threaten to come over the seat and take Christmas away.

The other mistake occurred the last day we were there. We were to hike Death Canyon, a major hike. We had already exhausted ourselves from all the activities during the week and we did not take notice of one boy getting anxious over the name of the hike. Add in changing the plan a bit and, bingo, we had the makings of a huge meltdown. Not one of our finer moments as I'm sure every animal in the Grand Tetons went running for Yellowstone.

I've come to realize that the bad memories fade and the good ones remain.
Proof is in the trip we made to Toronto when the boys were small. The whole, hot trip they were just horrible. There was a pool in the hotel and of course that's all they wanted to do. Why they would want to go walk around Toronto when it was that hot was beyond me? But anyway, we finally decided to give in, buy a movie in our room, and we locked ourselves in the bathroom. Me with a bottle of wine and Andy with a sixer. The boys, to this day remember that trip as an "awesome" weekend! Go figure!

So enjoy the link. It's the last time with the vacation photos, I promise.
And, I'm curious, what our some of your travel tips that you use when traveling with your family?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jackson Hole, Wyoming Part Two

One of the things about traveling is seeing things that you don't normally see in your own backyard. Where we live, we have 200+ acres of forever wild behind us. On any given day we can see deer, turkey, raccoons, fox, and an occasional misguided black bear.
The boys are use to animals in the wild and have been brought up to respect the animals' natural habitats.
That being said, it sure was cool seeing a mama moose and her calf.
And the elk roaming on the Wyoming plain were spectacular.
And when this Pronghorn deer popped out we were quite impressed!
But, the crowds and the traffic jams to see some of these animals saddened me. I felt, at times , that I was on a Disney World ride and that all the animals would be led back to the barn at dusk. People were careless, walking up close to the mama bison who were nursing their calves. Ah, people...mamas of any species get angry when they come near their young! Stand back!
Traffic jams ensued when a bull moose was grazing to close to a road. Rangers were forced into directing traffic, a job, I'm sure they did not like.
Right before we arrived in Wyoming, there was a terrible grizzly bear accident in Yellowstone. A man was attacked because the mama bear was protecting her cubs. Usually, in incidents like this the bear is found and destroyed. This one was not. The man was trying to get closer to take a picture. People, please leave that to the men and women who sit in the wild, at a safe distance, with their HUGE lenses and wait for the animals. It's not worth your life and the animals would appreciate the respect.
This elk was just hanging in the middle of the Old Faithful complex in Yellowstone. I couldn't believe that he wanted to be near all the people. Millions of acres and he was in an area about the size of a small living room. People were going nuts, pushing and shoving to get a good picture (not me though...I waited patiently). I think this lady actually enjoyed the people.

We were fortunate to come home just after dusk one evening and as we were driving up the hill to our rental house we were treated to several owls perched in different spots on the hill. Huge owls that had just begun their hunting for the evening. No pictures were taken, but the coolness factor of this sight will remain in my mind forever.
And you know what, I think, at times, that's the best way it should be.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jackson Hole, Wyoming Part One

So what do I say about our epic trip out West? It was an adventure just getting there as we flew through Chicago (always a risk) while extreme thunderstorms were crossing the country. Plane delays and flying through bad weather does not make for a great start to a vacation. We finally arrived at 11:30 (1:30 east coast time) and proceeded straight to bed. Only to awaken to this:

We were very tired, but off we went to the Bungee trampoline, lunch and a hike. We continued the week with a new adventure everyday.
Hiking was one of our favorite things to do AND (I'm not going to sugarcoat it here) one of the least favorite things to do. Since this is Part One of our adventure I want to start with the good and not the ugly.
We went whitewater rafting, mountain biking and rock climbing. We reached the summit of a mountain, with the help of the tram at Jackson Hole, and saw huge wild animals. We went four-wheeling in the cool truck/jeep that we rented and my boys drove a car for the first time. Really, a car, with their uncle, in the middle of the Wyoming plains, with the Tetons overlooking. Me, I stood far away and watched.
We drove to Yellowstone one day to see Old Faithful and the Morning Glory Pool. Ryan confessed that the Morning Glory Pool was his favorite (he wrote a report on Old Faithful and the MGP this year for science) and that he was glad that he finally saw it. We traveled 2000 plus miles to see a hole!
We smelled new smells like the sage, growing wild...every place you looked. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere. New ones would open daily as it got warmer and warmer. On a side note: Jackson and the surrounding areas are experiencing a late summer as it snowed until the middle of June. The rivers and lakes are extremely high and cold. Wildflower fields are just coming into bloom.
We traveled home, a week later, tired and sore. We discovered new muscles that we didn't know existed and new things about ourselves: perseverance and patience being the top two.
Stay tune for Part Two....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'll Be Back Soon....

We went on vacation last week to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!
Had a grand time in the Tetons, with a quick trip to Yellowstone.
Still trying to process the whole trip and deciding on how to organize my thoughts about our adventures.
Until I figure that out, enjoy the picture of the mountainscape. If you haven't been to this area of the country, go-like now! It's truly amazing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I'm afraid the blogging is going to be a little hit or miss around here this summer. The boys are keeping me active (in the car) and I'm trying to stay away from the computer. I've already finished two books and have started to pack for a trip away. I hope you are enjoying your summer and I will try to pop in when I have a few interesting tidbits. I'm sure you don't need to know about me driving the boys to baseball yet again.

Fun times on the lake.
My man-child. It's funny that I use this term. The Jungle Book movie was on heavy rotation when the boys were little. I keep thinking of Matt walking into the village at the end because he's hot for the girl....sigh....I hate this growing up thing.
One of my pictures was used to help advertise a new magazine in our city. Might be a job opportunity. the neighbors. Oh yeah...I'm sure there were some in our neighborhood that were not happy. Oh well!
Nights with good friends.

enjoy the rest of the week everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Link Love...

It's a long holiday weekend here in the States and I'm in between activities at the moment. Fourth of July in our town is as close as you can get to a Norman Rockwell painting. Parades, ice cream socials, a movie in the park, an art festival, farmer's market and of course playing on the lake are all favorite activities of the weekend.
I've been having fun with Instagram on my iphone. Provides a bit of enjoyment when I'm shlepping the boys from one place to another.
Hope you are all doing something grand to celebrate our country's independence.

Not sure if I would ever want to make a beet cake. But this video sure makes me want to try!
Today the boys pushed me as far as I was about to go with their behavior...and at that moment i wanted the sweet girls that were sitting on the boat next to me. If I did have girls, I would do this with them.
You still have time if you need a decoration for the 4th!

Or, you could do something as sweet and as simple as this.
The name of this site says it all....and really a the living room?

enjoy the rest of the weekend! I'm off to our next activity!